Chicago, “Darlin’ Dear” from Chicago VI (1973): Saturdays in the Park

“Darlin’ Dear” is a “deep cut” from 1973’s Chicago VI – i.e. a non-hit or album track. VI sounds almost nothing like its predecessor, Chicago V. The songs are shorter, more commercial and the only horn solos are Walt Parazaider’s excellent flute solo at the very end of “Something in This City Changes People” and his very nice soprano sax work on “Just You N’ Me.”

Despite writing at least half of Chicago VI, as Preston Frazier mentioned last week, Robert Lamm (keyboards, vocals) and Terry Kath (guitar, vocals) find their roles greatly diminished. They were driving the Chicago bus, now they are told to sit in the back. Chicago is clearly trombonist Jimmy Pankow’s band at this point, writing the album’s two big hits (“Just You N’ Me and “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day,” a co-write with bassist/vocalist Peter Cetera, his future Mutual Dislike Society member). Pankow also took over most of the stage announcements and – as several live recordings post-1972 reveal – the results are not pretty.

“Darlin’ Dear,” one of the few here with a guitar solo, starts out with author Robert Lamm’s “Roll that tape!” and boogie-woogie piano figure. Terry Kath, though not widely known for it, follows with a rare offering of greasy slide guitar work.

I don’t know if he’d been playing slide all along and decided V (“State of the Union”) and VI were the places to pull out that particular piece of his bag of tricks, or if it was simply a brief flirtation. For an extended Kath slide/wah-wah solo, see the live “State of the Union” from Live In Japan:

Robert Lamm pulls out one of his different singing voices. This time, he’s close to the funkster of “I Don’t Want Your Money” from Chicago III. This is a talent Lamm has just about forgotten or thrown away in later years, and it’s a shame as he had a real knack for making his vocal leads perfectly fit whatever song was at hand.

The lyrics of “Darlin’ Dear” are a total throwaway. In fact, the entire song is, except for the snarling horns and Kath’s excellent slide work. It’s a shame Terry never hitched up the slide again; he had a real talent for it.

‘Saturdays in the Park’ is a multi-writer, song-by-song examination of the music of Chicago. Find it here at Something Else! each weekend.

Bob Helme

Bob Helme

Bob Helme, a contributor to our weekly song-by-song series on Chicago called Saturdays in the Park, is a father of two with an MBA who still plays jazz part-time. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Bob Helme